What Christie is not saying—what he could never say, without wrecking his skillfully wrought image as a straight-talker whose only interest is in fixing his deeply distressed home state—is that he is working like hell to become the favorite, obvious, choice for vice president in 2012. Between the narrative he has constructed at home as the fearless enemy of budget-wrecking special interests, and the chits he has been busy racking up by raising money for Republican candidates from one end of the country to the other, he is putting himself in Position A to be recruited as a running mate. Christie, whose ego may be catching up to his appetite, said last week, "Can you see me as somebody's vice president? I mean, who would be that poor guy? You know, I just don't think that my personality is necessarily suited to being No. 2." Sure. Neither was Lyndon Johnson’s. Or Dick Cheney’s.
Or Spiro Agnew's, or Teddy Roosevelt's, or Joe Biden's, or Sarah Palin's. The successful vice presidential choice is someone who complements his running mate but goes further than he'd (she'd) go in attacking the opposition. People forget what an attack dog the now-saintly Al Gore was on the trail in 1992 and 1996, or how good Dan Quayle got at that role by 1992. (Palin was not an effective running mate, but she pushed the ball forward on personal and character attacks against Barack Obama; as plenty of people pointed out, her rough rallies, with their crowds who happily used Barack Obama's last name and griped about communism, were proto-Tea Parties.)